Oh man, I cannot believe it's FINALLY spring!! And you know how I can say that for certain? Well, of course, nothing is for certain in the realm of Mother Nature...BUT the trees are making buds! These buds! POPLAR BUDS! And that's how I know the forest is gearing up for a glorious bloom.
You may be familiar with these sticky little guys already, but if not- I HIGHLY recommend getting to know them. Their scent is absolutely divine. I'm talking make you want to smell them til the cows come home- divine. (And you do know, the cows never come home, right?).
The reason they're so sticky is because they contain a resin- and guess what? It's medicinal!
1) Be prepared to get really sticky fingers (Pro tip: Lemon essential oil or rubbing alcohol will get it off nicely ;)
2) Be mindful of harvesting only what the tree can handle. I love to find fallen branches, that way I'm not having to take directly off the tree. If you need to take from the tree, do so respectfully knowing you're taking the trees future leaves!
3) Bring a friend to share in the experience (Friends that harvest together, stay together!)
4) To make your medicine, put your buds in olive oil in a mason jar with the lid on. I use a 1:5 ratio, but you can do the folk method and just eyeball it. [To make a 1:5 ratio- If you harvest 100g poplar buds, times that by 5 to get your oil volume (100 x 5= 500ml olive oil). Within 1 week, you'll notice the oil start to take on that incredible smell. Leave it in the oil for 1 month+ to infuse it properly. Then it's ready to turn into a salve or use directly!
This oil or salve can be used for burns, aches & pains, superficial skin injuries like scrapes, cuts, insect bites and is incredibly anti-oxidant. It can be added to other creams or salves to help preserve it for this exact reason! It's also anti-septic, so helps keep those minor skin injuries disinfected while they heal.
Poplar is also known as Balm of Gilead or Cottonwood and the latin name is Populus balsamifera/ candicans. Although, it can be hard to identify the different species, and honestly it's not that necessary- you can use any of them!
DIY Poplar Bud Salve Recipe
Once the buds have sat in the oil for 4 weeks, you're ready to make your salve!
1/2 cup Poplar bud oil
1/2 ounce Beeswax (little pellets or chopped up really fine)
Glass or metal container with lid
Will make roughly 150ml of salve, can be double or tripled for large batches.
To make your own herbal salve from these gorgeous buds, here's what you want to do:
1) To get your poplar bud oil, pour off the oil from the top (the buds will naturally sink to the bottom). You can use a strainer too if you'd like. (See above post for how to make poplar bud oil!)
2) Gently heat the oil in a double boiler (I simply use a metal or glass bowl that sits over a pot with some steaming water in it on the stove)
3) Add your beeswax and melt it completely.
4) Pro Tip: Once beeswax has melted, test the consistency by putting a tiny bit on the end of a spoon and stick it in the freezer to cool for 1-2 mins. This will show you what the final texture will be like! If you want it to be thicker, then add a little more beeswax. If it's too thick, add more oil.
5) Pour the hot mixture into glass jars or metal containers. Allow to cool fully before pick them up or moving them! Once cool, put lid on, label and ENJOY.
There you have it- my all-time favorite spring harvest!
Now, go get your hands dirty.
Happy WILD Harvesting! (And happy spring, we made it!)
Thanks for this Bree! This is something I’ve been planning to try for a few years and never got around to. Going out to collect them now! Just wondering if it needs to be olive oil specifically that they sit in and if so why is it the best?
Thanks Amy! Glad you enjoyed the article, and yes, by far one of my favorite spring harvests too ;)
Love this Bree! Making poplar oil and salves with it is one of my favourite spring activities!
Thanks for sharing